Thiruvananthapuram: With the Kerala government deciding to implement the salary cut, employees and teachers in the state are staring at tough five months ahead.
Employees, drawing a total salary of up to Rs 20,000, such as the casual sweepers, last-grade workers, temporary staff and contract works, have been exempted from the salary cut. However, a good majority of the last-grade employees draw a salary above Rs 20,000 and hence will suffer the cut.
The government spends Rs 2,300 crore to disburse salary to the employees every month.
The government had earlier called for a salary challenge when the floods wreaked havoc in the state in 2018. However, the government decided to implement the salary cut this time instead of a salary challenge.
The government had received Rs 1,500 crore as donations in 10 months during the floods. About 40 per cent of the employees gave their entire salaries then, while only 18 per cent of the aided college teachers were ready to take part in the salary challenge.
However, by shifting to a salary cut from salary challenge, the government can save up to Rs 2,000 crore in just five months via salary disbursal.
Also, the deducted amount is unlikely to be moved into the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund. Instead, these will be reduced from the government’s expenses.
Those employees, who have to pay back house loans, vehicle loans and educational loans for children, will be the worst-affected. Even those in the lowest rungs of the salary hierarchy will lose Rs 4,000.
The Reserve Bank of India had announced a three-month moratorium on repayment of loans. However, the government employees will not benefit from this either as the last date for submitting the application has lapsed.
The Kerala government has promised that it would return the money deducted from the salary, once the economic situation improves. However, for the economic situation to improve there should be a steep rise in tax revenues or the Centre has to allow the state to make additional borrowings.
The government also has the additional burden of giving 12 per cent DA dues. Plus, the pay revision has to be implemented next year. With these financial burdens, it would be near impossible for the government to return the money deducted from the salaries.
If the associations, protesting the salary cut, approach the court, the government plans to counter them by citing similar action taken by the Centre and other states.
Rs 3.24 lakh from minister, Rs 2.53 lakh from MLA
Not just the employees, 30 per cent of the salaries of both ministers and MLAs will also be deducted for a year. Through this, the government will receive Rs 3.24 lakh in one year from each minister and Rs 2.52 lakh from the MLA.
The ministers receive a salary of Rs 90,000; while the MLAs get Rs 70,000.
Elected members of the local bodies will also take a 30 per cent cut in honorarium per month. Mayor and district panchayat presidents get Rs 15,800 as an honorarium, while deputy major and district panchayat vice-president get Rs 13,200. Councillors get Rs 8,200. District panchayat members are given Rs 8,800. Grama panchayat president gets Rs 13,200, vice-president Rs 10,600 and members are given Rs 7,000.
Apart from these, they are also given allowances for taking part in meetings.
Municipality chairman is given Rs 14,600, vice-chairman Rs 12,000 and councillors Rs 7,600.